For those of you just tuning in, this post is a continuation of a previous article, “Who Ya Gonna Call….Ghostwriters!“.
In the previous article I explored what a ghostwriter was, why someone would use one, how to find them, how to hire them and surprising works that had been written by ghostwriters.
Today, I want to talk about why someone would choose to BECOME a ghostwriter, how you would go about doing that and how much money you could possibly make from it.
So, you think you might have what it takes to be a ghostwriter?
Well, lets take a deeper look at this controversial job.
For the sake of this article we will be looking at ghostwriters who deal in the literary field.
There are 3 types of ghostwriting jobs
- The ones where the ghostwriter is given a topic or idea and must do all the research and outlining along with completing the material.
- The ones where the ghostwriter is given an outline, and/or research notes from the client and works alongside them to come up with a finished product
- The ones where a client is struggling to gain any ground with the product so the ghostwriter comes in and edits/rewrites what needs fixing.
Listed below are examples of what kind of clients a ghostwriter sees.
- Celebrities/Political Figures looking to write a book about their life/Memoirs or to manage their social media platforms
- Struggling Writers looking to fix unbuyable manuscripts
- Publishing Houses looking to produce mass quantities of books in certain popular series or through certain popular authors who no longer can write due to death or lack of physical ability
- Literary Agents who have clients that have an idea but lack the skill or the time to see it completed
- Everyday People who want to write a book but do not have the know how
- Business Professionals looking to make a how-to-book that demonstrates their knowledge in their field
- Website Owners looking for content
- Blog Owners looking for blog articles
- College students looking for help with their varied papers
- Pharmaceutical/Medical companies looking for material to publish in medical and scientific journals
As you can see the client base is vast and varied. The business opportunities are essentially endless if you have the talent, the connections or know where to look.
What does it take to be a ghostwriter?
A bachelors degree in English, Journalism or Communication would definitely help but surprisingly enough it is not a requirement.
However you do need to be able to:
- Understand your role – knowing that even though you are doing all the work this is your clients product and therefore in the end it must be what the client wants.
- Manage your time efficiently – Most Ghostwriters are freelancers therefore it is up to you to find your clients, to accurately charge them for the work and to complete the work in the time you promised.
- Be Personable – ghostwriters and their clients deal mainly through interviews, phone conversations and emails. There are times where you will need to meet in person as well. You need to be able to be friendly, while also being professional and you need to remember everything the client is telling you.
- Handle Research – Most projects will require at least some research on your part if not a lot. Research can take up to a few days or months. You need to know how to research efficiently so that you find out what you need without wasting precious time.
- Manage your client – Clients are high maintenance. You not only need to keep them happy and informed but you also need to keep them on schedule for the times you will need information from them so that the product is completed in the allotted time.
- Structure and Organize all your research material and notes – Some projects will be heavy with facts, research material, and notes from the client and it’s your job to be able to structure it all into an organized format that makes sense and flows with what the client wants.
- Capture the Clients Voice – This is THE most important ability of a ghostwriter. Remember, you are not writing this as yourself. Someone else’s name will be appearing on the front cover. Therefore, you need to know how to capture your clients voice and writing style.
What are the benefits of becoming a ghostwriter?
You get to work on a wide range of topics so your knowledge base grows.
You get the satisfaction of completing a project without having to worry about marketing and promotion.
You don’t need to build a platform like a writer/author does. You just need to create a network of good, reliable contacts.
Depending on the project you may get to work with a team of ghostwriters.
Depending on your contract with your client you may actually get a byline and/or a split of the royalties.
You get to work from home, set your own schedule and work with the clients and projects you choose.
What are the disadvantages of becoming a ghostwriter?
You work from home, therefore you have to be able to keep yourself productive and managae your time efficiently.
You will need to have some knowledge on how to draw up the types of contracts you will need or know someone to hire for that.
Unless you are part of a firm of ghostwriters you will need to find the jobs yourself. You will need to post want ads or look through help wanted sections. You will also have to screen the potential clients yourself.
In the end you are the one who decides how much money you will need and are willing to take for a certain project. If by the end you decide you were underpaid then you only have yourself to blame.
You will be in charge of making sure your clients pay your on time or even at all. This of course can get messy.
You will be working in a career field that is very controversial. Some people except and understand the need for ghostwriters while others believe it to be morally wrong and feel that it should be illegal.
What kind of money does a ghostwriter make?
This is a very difficult question to answer. Every ghostwriter charges differently then the other and every project is priced differently from the next. However, I can give you ranges that I have found. Keep in mind that these ranges are very wide because, like I said, the pricing depends on so many different variables.
3 Different Ways a GhostWriter Might Charge:
- Hourly: $65-250/hr
- Per Word: $0.25-$3/word
- Per Project/Book : $15,000 – $150,000
Potential Incomes from Non Fiction and Fiction Books:
- 50,000 – 70,000 words $10,000 – $50,000
- 200 – 300 page book $20,000 – $80,000
*Remember that if the client is a celebrity or a well known political person then the prices are much higher*
So, do you still think you’ve got what it takes?
Then have fun checking out the following links:
- How To Be A Successful GhostWriter by Kelly James-Enger on Writers Digest
- Becoming A Ghostwriter 101 by Valerie Peterson on About.com
- Ghostwriting Uncovered by Amanda J. Evans (Great blog/website for ghostwriters *Extensive Archvies!*)
- Interview With A Ghostwriter:Melanie Mallon